Yellow Bayou, throwing up fortifications and felling timber in front of them. One day, while on duty here, I was very feeble, came near having a chill, though it wore away, and my usual health returned.
While at this camp, we spent Christmas, 1863, and many of the soldiers got drunk, and with shame, I confess that I was among the number, and again I confess, it was not by accident. I had seen many drunk men, and I had curiosity to know if drunken men knew what they were about, or if they were as crazy as they feigned to be, so I began early in the morning and in a few hours, I had experienced fully the effect of Louisiana run. I was very mirthful, and I will here record, that a drunk man's acts are a sober man's thoughts.
In the first days of the year 1864, we left Yellow Bayou, in route for Marksville -- on the way we passed through a town called Monsier [Mansura, LA]. Here is the nicest cemetery I have ever seen, mostly Catholic, most every grave had a cross over it. Here, also that sect have a convent. I was on guard the day we passed through this place. Something impeded the progress of the army, and we were halted in front of the convent, which was picketed extremely high. Soon, I noticed someone had gotten the gate open, of the picket fence, and as soldiers did not wait for a very pressing invitation, I went in with the rest. On entering, I found myself among four score, or more, of the most beautiful young ladies I had ever seen, and two aged ones. They were singing in French, I suppose (could not understand a word) and playing on their pianos, seemed very much interested, so much so, that they did not appear to notice us at all.
So soon as the officers could get us in line, we pursued our march, arrived and camped a mile or so east of Marksville.
I find recorded in my diary that on the night previous to the day I have described that I was sent off on the outpost guard, without any rations, and got a French woman to prepare some supper for me -- it consisted of chicken and "beoff", (as the little boy called it, who brought it) and many other ingredients, apparently, all scrambled up together, and a large pitcher of milk. I ate heartily, and pronounced it very very good.
We will return to our camp at Marksville -- here we were ordered to build winter quarters, which we soon did, in a rude way, and expected to spend the remainder of the winter here. We spent the best weather in drilling, which we followed for some days, when Gen. Walker offered a flag as a praise to the best drilled Reg't. The Reg'ts. were all to drill, and the two best were to be selected by the inspector Gen., as contestants. The 8th Dismounted Cavalry, and 11th Infantry were selected. Before the day for the trial drill, however, the Company to which I belonged, together with one from each Reg't., were detached to constitute a garrison for Ft. DeBusy [Ft. De Russy, northwest of Simmesport, LA], a fort a few miles away, on Red River bank. Taking us out of our winter quarters, after a stay of not more than two weeks, in the dead of winter, on account of the contrariness of one or two individuals. During the absence of Col. [Edward] Clark of the 14th Reg't., who had gone home on